Sharing the Holiday Spirit in Song in Siouxland, Nora, SD

17 Dec

 

I always find it fun when venturing out in Siouxland to revisit places I have been too. Visited often enough, places become very familiar. Sometimes though a place feels at home as soon as you walk through the door. The Nora, SD country store is located at a crossroads in rural South Dakota and owned by Mike Pederson. Listed on the National Register of Historic places, the store was a true country store, closing in 1962. Some items from its previous life are still sitting on shelves.

Resident cats of Mike Pederson check out visitors’ vehicles while everyone is inside the Nora, SD store for 30th annual Christmas carol sing-a-long Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019. Pederson began the sing-a-longs in 1989 when he moved and set up the pipe organ in his store. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is one of a few remaining country stores, which closed in 1962. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A pet cat looks for some attention outside the Nora, SD, store Sunday Dec. 1, 2019 with remnants of a blizzard still remaining on the ground. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Pederson has been hosting holiday sing-a-longs at the store since 1989, 30 years. He acquired an organ in the early days, learned to play it and began inviting folk to stop by during the weeks leading up to Christmas Day and to share in Christmas music, both secular and religious to just help folk get into the spirit.

MIKE PEDERSON sits at his organ where he plays Christmas music beginning just after the Thanksgiving holiday up through December 15 at his Nora, SD, Christmas store Sunday Dec. 1, 2019. Marking his 30th year of his annual Nora Store Christmas Carol sing-a-long beginning in 1989 when he set up a pipe organ. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

MIKE PEDERSON, fifth from the left, sits at his German-made organ where he plays Christmas music at his Nora, SD, Christmas store Sunday Dec. 8, 2019 and is joined by visitors sharing in the love of singing Christmas carols. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Christmas decorations hang inside the Nora, SD, store Sunday Dec. 1, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

From hosting so many years he tells some pretty interesting stories of people who have visited. Some by chance and others making a pilgrimage to come back, by themselves or bringing family and friends to enjoy a couple hours of singing and leaving cares at the front door and sharing space and time with strangers who are not really that strange. All enjoy singing, some of us more off key than others, but people don’t seem to care and with so many voices it’s hard to tell anyway.

MIKE PEDERSON puts out more cookies for visitors to his Nora, SD, store Sunday Dec. 8, 2019. Pederson is marking his 30th year for an annual Nora Store Christmas Carol sing-a-long beginning in 1989 when he set up a pipe organ. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

MIKE PEDERSON plays Christmas carols on his German-made organ at his Nora, SD, Christmas store Sunday Dec. 8, 2019 and is joined by visitors sharing in the love of singing Christmas carols. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Pederson told folk attending this year that he has been diagnosed with cancer, but so far, has been blessed with good health as he attends to treatment and the medication that goes along with that treatment. His main concern was in asking for some help in keep the store in repair as it needs some work and because of its historical significance to rural America and the fact that these stores are disappearing. Others in the area have been torn down or destroyed by fire. A slice of Americana that can’t be replicated. And I think he also wants to keep alive that spirit of togetherness, sharing with neighbors,  known and unknown, and taking time out to celebrate a time of year that many find special and a place to enjoy it in, bringing back memories for some and creating memories for others too young to have experience that past.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

MIKE PEDERSON, third from left, tells a story of visiting Norwegians who stopped by a couple years ago to sit Christmas carols at his Nora, SD store seen Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

MIKE PEDERSON, third from left, sits at his organ where he plays Christmas music at his Nora, SD, Christmas store Sunday Dec. 8, 2019 and is joined by visitors sharing in the love of singing Christmas carols, marking 30 years for his annual Nora Store the sing-a-long which began in 1989. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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